Enough

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I think everything that happens in “Enough” happens only within a nightmare had by the protagonist, a California waitress named Slim (Jennifer Lopez). There is no internal evidence for this theory — she never wakes up and says, “Thank goodness I was only dreaming!” — but there’s no other way to explain how black-and-white and unrealistic the film is.

It starts with Slim marrying a perfect man named Mitch (Billy Campbell). Soon he is exhibiting non-perfect behavior by the boatload: He’s having an affair, he doesn’t care if Slim knows, he hits her, he insists it’s his right because he’s the bread-winner, he almost shoots Slim’s friends, and he calls her Indian boss a “rughead.” In other words, screenwriter Nicholas Kazan had a list of qualities that would make a man loathsome, and he made sure Mitch has all of them. If Slim should seek revenge on him later in the film, as the ads and posters promise, we need to be sure there is no moral ambiguity. Mitch must completely deserve whatever his punishment is.

Slim is in a bind. (She has to be, or else her revenge will be unjustified.) She goes to Mitch’s mother, but she’s on his side. If she has him arrested, he’ll get out on bail and beat her up some more. When she flees to a friend’s house in Seattle, he sends hired goons after her. He freezes her bank accounts and credit cards. Mitch even has a friend on the police force — a cheat in the screenplay, as it gives him access to information he could never get otherwise. (We don’t even know he has this friend until he becomes useful.)

So she takes her little girl, Gracie (Tessa Allen), to Michigan, where they get new names — Slim becomes “Erin Ann Shleeter”; Gracie chooses “Queen Elizabeth” — and a new life. But thanks to that plot convenience known as the cop friend, Mitch tracks them down. Slim will have to fight back.

And so after visiting the world’s least helpful lawyer and hitting more brick walls, Slim sets up a convoluted final showdown. She almost seems to be doing it with the audience in mind — fitting, since the entire film is nothing more than an exercise in making women cheer. The audience, being full of women and the men they dragged with them, will want to see Mitch get beaten up, yes, but they’ll want him embarrassed and humiliated, too. “Enough” is happy to oblige. “Enough” will do anything to please its audience, whether it makes sense or not. (Audiences apparently want single-mindedly evil bad guys, rather than the kind we have in real life, who have layers and nuances and motives. Not a single explanation is ever given for why Mitch won’t just LET HER GO.)

Slim never stops being the lovely and glamorous Jennifer Lopez. After Mitch has beaten her up, the physical evidence amounts to a scratch below one eye. When Slim is penniless, it means staying one night in a shelter. Later, when she and Gracie have a home, their hardships are summarized by Slim being a bad cook. If anything, this glossed-over farce is disrespectful to real-life battered women, many of whom at least have the sense to go to the police — which would have blessedly stopped this dim-witted movie in its tracks about 30 minutes into it.

C- (; PG-13, scattered profanity (including one F-word), some violence.)

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